While I was back in Nebraska, one of the highlights of my time was getting to practice with my yoga teacher again.
Yes, I’ve met some incredible teachers here in Israel (ones with whom I’ve actually clicked), but no one can ever replace Jenny. I think that every yogi has that one teacher who they just resonate with on all levels, that one teacher whose practice serves as an inspiration for our own and whose outlook on life is a source of wisdom for continuing to grow in our journeys of self-discovery. Jenny is that teacher for me.
So, after Mysore practice (in which Jenny once again helped me to bend in ways I forgot I was capable of and tap into the strength I often forget I have), we sat down for a cup of coffee and a catch-up chat. As is so often the case with yogi friends, our conversation was open and raw, deep and vulnerable. We talked about the surface stuff, of course, but we also got straight to the point. I told her about the struggles I’d been going through, about my burnout, and about my lack of clear direction. Jenny listened, sipping her coffee, and shielding her eyes from the sun as she watched me closely.
“You need to get your practice back.”
It was that simple. There was no judgment; it was just a matter-of-fact statement.
Of course, since this was something I’d long been feeling in my gut but hadn’t really put into words, I jumped to the defense.
“I don’t have time,” I whined, hiding behind my coffee cup and furrowing my brow. “All I do is work to try and have a roof over my head and food to eat, and then on top of that there’s homework…”
Jenny cut me off. “You don’t have fifteen minutes?”
Shit. She caught me. “Well…yeah…”
“Okay. Fifteen minutes is enough. Get out your mat, do your rounds of Surya Namaskara, and then depending on what you have time for, do some seated postures and then finish off with the last three. Done. Fifteen minutes.”
She eyed me with a slight smile playing at her lips, the exact expression she takes on in my imagination whenever I think of her. She was right, of course. Between playing on my phone, checking Facebook, watching the odd episode of Parks and Rec, and reading a few stolen pages in a book here and there, I could more than find fifteen minutes to dedicate to my yoga practice.
I’ll have more to say about Jenny’s wisdom in later posts (she’s like an ever-flowing fountain of insight), but this statement in particular really turned things around for me. It was like taking off a pair of dirty glasses and realizing that you can see much better without them, that all you’ve really been doing is carrying around a bunch of excuses.
As Ashtanga practitioners, we often quote Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, saying, “Practice and all is coming.” Usually, I tend to think of this on a physical aspect. A new pose isn’t learned in a day, and it often takes years and years of diligent practice to cultivate the muscles and flexibility needed to progress through the Ashtanga series. However, I can see now that there is a lot more behind this powerful statement of Guruji’s. If I can place the actually important things, like operating from a place of patience, gratitude, and equanimity, in the forefront of my life instead of moaning and groaning about the struggles I’ve got going on, all is coming. Practicing patience and strength on my mat allows me to start practicing more patience and strength in my everyday life.
Just practice. Fifteen minutes is all it takes.
So, now that I’m back in Israel and trying to settle into the groove of life here once again, I’m placing a renewed importance on my personal yoga practice. Even if it’s only for ten or fifteen minutes, I am committing myself to unrolling my mat and just practicing. Every day. If this is something that resonates with you and you’d like to join me by resolidifying your own practice, feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email. I truly believe that yoga can heal our lives from the inside out, and thereby begin to heal the world around us. Let’s get back to it and give it the dedication it deserves.